BIG BOX OF AFROSOUND (VAMPISOUL/2015)

10 Juin

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7-inch records — be they 45 or 33, two tracks or an EP — are the ultimate DJ tool if you like playing vinyl because they are lighter and smaller and thus easier to take to gigs. My friend DJ Turmix confided in me once that he gave up bringing 12-inch records to parties and clubs because the weight over the years had damaged his body, and I heartily concurred. We both agreed, though, that the problem is not everything is available on 45! In fact, it’s long been a sticking point in jockey and collector circles that while there are certain coveted tunes that can be found on 45 (sometimes at great cost), sadly, other favorites do not exist on that format at all. At least now, when vinyl is experiencing a resurgence of interest, 7-inch records are back in style and labels are reissuing deep album cuts or rarities that never originally saw the light of day as a single, so thankfully the palette is opening up for DJs who stick to 45s only, and hopefully as a result there will be fewer injured backs and sprained wrists!

Back when I was first conceiving of the Afrosound of Colombia in 2009, I fantasized about making some limited edition 45s of just such a selection from the Fuentes vaults – putting out a few tracks that were either very hard to find and expensive to get on 45, or that had never been available before on 7-inch. But it was not until six years later that the stars aligned and this dream was fulfilled, the tangible product of which you now find in your sweaty little hands, dear reader.

Early on in the design process for Volume 2 of Afrosound, Iñigo Pastor, Vampisoul’s mastermind, had told me how much he liked CS Fossett’s artwork, especially the panel with all the portraits of Fuentes stars. In fact, he suggested we use that as a jumping off point to do a series of 45s utilizing the individual portraits as sleeve art, each one highlighting two songs by that artist, with the tie in concept that we pitch the project as “learn to dance the Afrosound with DJ Bongohead” or some such tag.

While I was excited that Iñigo loved Chris’ artwork and flattered that he was thinking of doing something along these lines that made it seem like I was making people hit the floor with my selections and perhaps teaching them about different Colombian genres in the process, I was a bit uncomfortable with the emphasis being on me (and also limiting it to the artists represented in the portraits). So I decided to dial it back a bit and came up with the concept for presenting a “Big Box of Afrosound” – as if it were some crate of contraband material found in the far off jungle abandoned by rebel DJs in the mountains, or perhaps a straw filled shipping container holding some precious relic or artifact robbed from a native tomb, Indiana Jones style. The main idea was inspired by Iñigo and Vampisoul’s brilliant box of Latin soul and boogaloo 45s from a few years back. This way I could do a special collection of ten 45s, not just a few singles, drawing from both of the already issued volumes of Afrosound and also putting in some selections that Iñigo and I wanted to have on 45. Some would be tunes released on this format for the first time, while others were cuts nearly impossible to find in the original vinyl; some would be specially remastered just for this project, coming from deep within the vaults at Fuentes HQ in Medellín. But the most important criteria was the tracks had to be fun and/or “crazy”…

I am betting that some of these will be favorites for people already familiar with Volumes 1 and 2, and hopefully others will become new top picks for future gigs. These twenty jams represent the taste not only of myself and Iñigo, but also several trusted advisors and fellow travelers down the road of Colombian music who tipped me off to certain amazing Fuentes tracks and artists over the years.

Pablo E Yglesias aka DJ Bongohead

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